As a dermatologist, one of the most common things I get asked about is dark circles under the eyes and how to get rid of them. Dark circles under the eyes is a problem that many people are all too familiar with. So does anything really work?
Before treating dark circles, eye bags and droopy lids, a full assessment of the issue is required. This is because there are many different causes for the dark circles, so getting expert advice is important.
MYTH: The biggest myth is that dark circles under the eyes are a pigment problem, and can be treated with a fading cream.
1. Loss of Volume
The truth is that most of the time, the darkness under your eyes comes as a result of loss of volume in the eye. Not from discolouration of the skin
As we age, a hollow is created beneath the eye. As the cheek area beneath descends with time, the hollow becomes more obvious. Light is absorbed, not reflected by the concavity, and the area appears black/blue. In addition the surrounding skin becomes lax and crinkly.
Sometimes there may be secondary issues such as dermatitis. Dermatitis can be found on cheeks, forehead and then even lead to under the eyes.
If you have an example pic pop in here
Once it is starting to heal, the skin can rub off. If the skin is rubbed or scratched, it might leave a post inflammatory pigmentation. This then needs to be treated with anti inflammatory creams.
3. Anemia from iron deficiency
Anemia or an iron deficiency can result in dark eye circles, as not enough oxygen reaches the body's tissues. Liver problems can also cause this. Any medications that make blood vessels dilate can cause eye circles to darken as well.
4. Lack of sleep
If you're not getting enough sleep, it can take a toll on your skin. You may start to see dark circles under your eyes, and your skin may become dull and pale.
Fluid can also build up under your eyes, causing them to appear puffy.
If you have allergies, you may be prone to developing dark circles under your eyes. This can be a cosmetic concern, as well as a sign of an underlying health condition.
If you suspect that your dark circles are due to allergies, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Dark circles under eyes treatments
Camouflage – bandaid it
Don’t want to get fancy with invasive treatments, trial a “colour corrector”. This goes under your concealer and blends the unwanted colour with the rest of your skin.
Pink or peaches based tones can counteract some unwanted blue/grey. If you skin is fair use pink, if olive tone use peach.
Dermal Fillers – get to the root
These are placed deep under the skin to ‘lift up’ the eye area, and reduce the concavity.
Placed correctly, they can improve the appearance of the dark circles, by replacing some of the lost volume.
One potential cause of dark circles under the eyes is volume loss in the tear trough area due to ageing. Dermal fillers can help restore volume in this area by injecting a small amount of hyaluronic acid under the skin. This helps to lift the skin and restore volume to the area.
Skin Tightening – smooth it
An increase in skin laxity and fine lines can worsen the appearance of the whole eye area. Treatments with radiofrequency or microneedling can tighten the periorbital skin and give the appearance of a smoother less tired look.
These procedures are safe around the eyes.
Dark circles under eyes - the dermatologist’s home remedies
Heading to an event, and just want to take the edge off those dark circles under the eyes yourself at home? These are my go to tricks and tips.
Facials or gel mask
Double cleansing is a crucial step in any facial routine - think of it as prepping your skin before you even start. By getting rid of any makeup, dirt, or oil on your skin, you're allowing your skincare products to work more effectively and giving yourself a clean slate to work with.
You could go with a mix your own facial. My go to is using an avocado face mask. This recipe is super easy.
- Half an avocado
- 1 tablespoon of oats
This mask is full of antioxidants that can help reduce the signs of aging, like sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles. Avocado also helps protect the skin from UV radiation.
If you aren’t feeling like mixing your own - the a gel mask might be for you.
Gel masks work to hydrate, plump and relieves dry, stressed skin.
Pop a cucumber on your eyes. Cucumbers are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is not only an antioxidant but also helps to keep your skin looking young and healthy.
Vitamin A produces collagen, which diminishes wrinkles and lines, fights acne, and improves overall skin health. It is also necessary for wound healing. Some research even suggests that it may reduce the risk of skin cancer.
If you're looking to reduce the appearance of dark circles around your eyes, one home remedy is to apply cold black or green tea bags.
The caffeine in the tea can help to narrow the blood vessels and constrict blood flow, which can minimize the appearance of dark circles.
A cold compress can help with swelling and making dilated blood vessels appear smaller to lessen the puffiness and darkness around your eyes.
Wrap a few ice cubes in a clean washcloth and apply it to your eyes for a few minutes. You can also wet a washcloth with cold water and place it under your eyes for 20 minutes to get the same results.
There are a few things to keep in mind when concealer shopping for the under-eyes. A light-reflective formula is best to brighten up the area, and it should be a shade lighter than your skin tone.
If you have fine lines, look for a more dense, matte and firm concealer that won't crease. Check out our makeup tips with Shella Martin.
Preventing dark circles under the eyes
Drink lots of water
Water is not just good for your insides, it can also help reduce the amount of salt concentration around your eyes. If you've been eating salty food, chances are you will wake up with puffy eyes. To help flush out the toxins, drink plenty of water throughout the day and night.
Get lots of sleep
Catching up on sleep may help reduce the appearance of dark circles for some people. Sleep deprivation can cause your skin to look pale, which makes the dark circles more noticeable. To help reduce the appearance of dark circles, try elevating your head when you sleep. This will help improve blood circulation and might reduce the appearance of dark circles.
Dark circles under the eyes can be pretty pesky. They usually show up when you're tired, but sometimes they can just be shadows from puffy eyelids or hallows under your eyes that come with age.
If you're looking to get rid of those dark circles, try some at-home remedies like putting cool cucumbers on your eyes or using tea bags! Or pop into Skindepth for a surefire fix on clearing them up.
Take care of your skin with Sunscreen. I’m loving the colourscience SPF powder stick, as it means it’s now super easy to reapply your makeup and sunscreen throughout the day - a two in one.
But remember it is best to start with a sunscreen first thing in the morning, before applying your makeup.
Dark Circles Under Eyes The FAQs
I’m a man with dark circles under my eyes, what do I do?
Some men may feel that dark circles under their eyes make them look older and less energetic. Wearing makeup to conceal these dark circles may not be an option for some men, so what are the alternatives?
We offer dermal fillers that are designed specifically for men. These fillers can help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and lines, and they can also add volume to the face.
Help, my baby has dark circles under eyes, what does this mean?
If you notice dark circles under your baby's eyes, it could be a sign that they are not getting enough sleep.
Maybe they are teething and waking up often at night, or perhaps they have an illness that is causing them to feel tired. If the dark circles do not go away after a few days, or if you notice other changes in your baby's health, it's best to talk to a doctor.
Are the dark circles under eyes is just from pigmentation?
Dark circles under the eyes are not from pigmentation. However, there are other causes as well, including allergies, lack of sleep, and hereditary factors. If you're concerned about dark circles under your eyes, consult a doctor or dermatologist to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Written by Melbourne Dermatologist Dr Alice Rudd. Dr Rudd is a General and Cosmetic Dermatologist who founded and runs Skindepth Dermatology out of St Kilda, Melbourne. Dr Rudd specialises in the area of anti-ageing including, skin care, injectable care and the therapeutic use of lasers.
Would you like to know more about treating the dark circles under your eyes? Feel free to make an appointment with Dr Rudd or to one of our experienced Dermal Clinicians or Cosmetic Nurses today.
Photo credit: Ashley Hart